Addict stole $100,000 of jewellery from homes

A heroin addict admitted breaking into two homes and stealing more than $100,000 of jewellery and valuables to fund his habit.

Vincent Burch, 44, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $60,000 of goods from one property and $40,000 of items from a second.

Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday that he raided a home in Longford Road, Warwick, on December 17 and broke into a safe.

A workman hired to paint the home’s roof saw Burch leaving the property with two knapsacks that afternoon.

The workman, who told police he had seen the defendant ride a motorcycle up and down the road earlier that day, chased Burch, who fled on foot.

The workman found the motorcycle Burch had been riding and stayed with it until police arrived.

Police contacted the motorcycle’s owner, who said Burch had called him that morning and asked to borrow the bike so he could visit his daughter.

The owner said Burch later told him the bike had broken down on Longford Road and had been taken by police.

The court heard Burch also broke into a home on Pokiok Crescent, Smith’s, on January 22.

The homeowner told police he discovered his bedroom safe missing when he returned home that afternoon.

Police arrested Burch on January 28 and, in a search of his Devonshire home, found items that had been taken from both the homes. Burch admitted both burglaries.

He added that he had taken the safe stolen in the second break-in to South Shore and opened it. He took what he thought he could sell and dumped the rest into the sea.

Burch said he had traded some of the stolen jewellery for half a gram of heroin.

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe questioned the prosecution about the value of the stolen items — said to have included a $20,000 ring and a $12,000 ring — and directed the Crown to find out if documents to confirm their value could be produced.

Mr Wolffe said: “Let’s get that information so when I sentence him, we know we are sentencing him for the right value.

“He could get from 12 months up to five years — depending on the value of that could be different.”

The magistrate also ordered a social inquiry report and a drugs assessment on Burch and referred him to a sitting of the Drug Treatment Court this week.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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